Archive for May, 2008

Emergency Preparedness
May 31, 2008

During the past few weeks there have been numerous incidents of tornadoes and other severe weather across the United States.  Families and pets are displaced by these storms all the time. But the question is, what do you do with your pet when you have to evacuate?


Well, before the storm strikes, let’s remember the Boy Scout motto – Be Prepared!


A few suggestions I’ve come up with over the years may come in handy…


AAA has a book they put out every year.  See if someone you know can get a copy.  Then look up hotels that are pet friendly.  And not just in CT.  Look in surrounding states as well.  What if a hurricane hit?  Several states would be affected so it’s best to keep a list of numerous hotels in numerous areas.


Water, water everywhere….. Once the storm hits and drains over-flow and flooding starts, most likely there will be not a sanitary drop of water to drink for either you OR your pet.  Stock up on bottled water – by the gallon…. Take old gallon milk containers and, after they’re thoroughly washed, fill them with water.  Store them in the basement as this is most likely the place you’ll be hiding if the “big one” hits…


Get an extra supply of pet food.  Keep bird food in the freezer to make sure no moths decide to make their homes in the bags.  Rotate the food so you always have an extra bag on hand.


Get extra food bowls and water bowls for every one.  Keep all pet supplies (extra leashes, bedding, etc) in one place.  Maybe invest in a plastic tub with a cover.  Put “PET SUPPLIES” in bold marker across the top so that in case of an emergency evacuation, you can clearly see the box and grab and go.


Have pet carriers available for each pet you have – even birds.  And have them in easily accessible areas.  Again, if you have to leave in a hurry, knowing where everything is really helps.


Keep a list of all pet medications. Keep extras if you can but make sure you have a list at least of all necessary meds.


I know there are stickers you can get for windows that list the number and types of pets in the house – This can help the fire department in case of a fire or it can also help rescue workers if needed.


Now this information is for when you have time to evacuate.  Obviously, if you have a fire in the house, there is not time to go looking for things.  Remember – if you put yourself in jeopardy, you’ll be no good to your pets.  Use common sense! And prepare!!


Spring Babies
May 23, 2008

Every year, around this time, wildlife rehabilitators and nature centers are flooded with calls about “orphaned” baby animals that folks have found in their yard, in the woods, in the fields, etc.  And before the nature centers or rehabbers can say “leave it alone” these animals are brought to them, often very traumatized, by very well-meaning people.


Hopefully this week’s blog will help everyone!


When you find an animal or bird that you suspect has been left by it’s mother, take a DEEP breath and….. now this is important……STEP AWAY FROM THE ANIMAL!  You heard me.  The reality is that most of these “orphans” are not really orphaned at all!  Mom is just a heartbeat away (probably scared of you being so near her kids) and will return to help her offspring just as soon as you leave.  And by that I don’t just mean stepping away – you need to REALLY be away!!! 

Now I do know that sometimes Mom isn’t around and, due to a fast moving car or cat or…, won’t be back. So I’m going to list a few of the most common critters found and tell you what to do and what NOT to do!


Deer – Baby deer (fawns) are very common.  Momma Doe will leave them in what she thinks is a very secluded, safe spot. Baby Deer is instructed to stay still in that spot, which they usually do unless something of danger (coyote, person) comes too close.  But Momma Doe will be back for her child – She’s just off munching some tasty clover.  She also knows that predators will go after her before they see her child so it’s a way to protect the child as well….So what do you do?  NOTHING.  Baby deer have (as do adult deer) VERY sharp hooves.  Never get in the way of those hooves or you’ll find yourself with one nasty cut!  But I digress – Just leave the baby alone – Mom will be back…


Raccoons, Squirrels, Rabbits – These guys are actually out on their own at a very small size.  Rabbits and squirrels are not really considered Rabies Vector Species but Raccoons are.  SO, if you see one you’re thinking is abandoned, it’s best to leave it there and call in for help (animal control, police, nature center, etc)…  Once the rabbits and squirrels have fur and eyes open, they’re actually ready to be on their own.  They’re usually no bigger than an adult’s hand when it’s time for them to go and remember that Mom is usually near by, too, until she’s ready to have another litter.


If you do find a rabbit or squirrel without fur, etc., call the animal control officer.  If there is no help available and you MUST take it, wear gloves!  Remember, this is a WILD animal and it may bite even though it’s small.  Put it in a box with a towel and keep it warm until you can get it to a wildlife rehabilitator.  Remember that these babies can die of shock so keep them quiet and call for help immediately.  The sooner they get into professional hands, the better their chance of survival.  Keep dogs, cats and children away so as not to further traumatize the baby.


Opossums – See Raccoons, etc. but if you do have to “rescue” this orphan, put it in a knit cap – they find that very comforting.  Also, they’ll froth at the mouth and make weird noises – this is their way of telling you to GO AWAY.  They, too, are on their own at a very young age so if they’re out walking around, leave them alone!


Birds – Baby birds fall out of nests a lot.  First, try to find the nest.  If you can put the baby in a box (small) and put the box back up in the tree, Momma Bird will most likely come to its aid.  If it has feathers and looks like a mini version of Momma Bird, it’s most likely trying to learn how to fly.  Put it up in a tree, out of cat reach, and LEAVE.


Bear – Baby bears ALWAYS have Mom around – GO AWAY!!!!!  Nuff said!!!


The point I’m trying to make here is this – Baby animals have existed for eons without our help.  They’ve been born, grown up and died without even so much as a human voice having been heard.  I do understand (BELIEVE ME!) that it’s human nature to want to help keep the baby from harm but often times “rescuing” the baby causes it MORE harm than good. 


If you do find an animal and you TRULY feel that this animal is in dire danger, the BEST course of action is to back off and call for help. Keep dogs, cats and children away from the animal.  An animal control officer or a wildlife rehabilitator will be able to tell you IF there is a danger and, if necessary, THEY will be able to take the animal in and get it the assistance it needs. 


One more incentive – Per State Statute – it is ILLEGAL in the State of Connecticut to have or keep a wild animal in your possession unless you are licensed by the state.  Last time I checked, the penalty is ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS PER DAY, PER ANIMAL. 

And remember, warm blooded animals can carry RABIES.  Best to do?  Call the pro’s!!!

Sweet Summer Time!
May 17, 2008

Oh summer time – that wonderful, relaxing time of year!  What a perfect time to be with your pets, enjoying the warm weather, the lake, long walks, the pool!  So what can go wrong?  Well, not much if you’re careful.  Here are a few tips I’ve come up with over the years….


Pets in Cars – You’ve heard it over and over – Don’t leave your pet in a closed up car.  Well, what about if you crack the windows about 2 inches?  Doesn’t that help?  Nope.  Not at all.  Your pet’s body temperature is around 100 degrees.  Your pet is covered with insulating fur.  Your pet doesn’t sweat the way you and I do.  So put your pet in a car, in a parking lot (usually not a lot of shade there), in temperatures above 70 and you’re looking at a disaster very quickly.  Even with the windows cracked about 2 inches, its still waaaaay too hot for the pet.  Pets heat up very quickly and can’t sweat as well as we can.  Their internal temperature soars and, well, we all hear on the news what happens next.  But did you know that, if you leave your pet in the car, you just might have to go see a judge to explain your actions?  Yep – it can land you under arrest.  Best thing to do?  Leave the pet at home – they’ll like it better, anyway!


What do you do if you see an animal in a car on a hot day?  If you see an animal in a parked car and it appears that the animal is having difficulties (excessive panting, etc), get the license plate, go into the store and give the information to the clerk at the courtesy desk.  You can also just get the license plate and call the local police department.  They’ll take the information, you can remain anonymous, and they’ll send a patrol car or the animal control officer out to check.  Because you’ve given them the license plate number, the car can be located even if it leaves the parking lot.  It doesn’t hurt to try and help – And you could just be saving a life!


Older animals are extremely susceptible to heat issues.  Please make sure to keep these older animals inside where it’s cooler.


Dogs do NOT belong in an open bed of a pickup!!!  The bed of the truck (made of METAL) gets very hot in the sun!  Along with getting burned feet, the pooch can, if the truck stops fast, become a missile and fly OUT of the truck, causing injury or death to the dog.  The owner / operator of that truck, by the way, is also liable for any damages or accidents, his or her flying dog causes to anyone else.  And remember, too, that if you park your pickup with your dog in the bed and someone walks by and receives a “love nip” from your dog, you are liable as well…  Long and short – leave the dog home!


Now, dogs in beds of trucks leads to thoughts about dogs lose in cars.  This may sound silly, but there are actually seat belts for dogs.  Ok – stop laughing.  I’ve chatted with medical folks who respond to motor vehicle accidents where pets are in vehicles.  What happens is that the animal (usually the dog) gets thrown around the car if the car has to stop fast or if the car is involved in an accident.  We’re talking about an animal being tossed around a car and, hence, banging off of the people in the car.  THIS can cause some MAJOR issues!  So maybe it’s time to either use a seatbelt or a crate to restrain your dog for it’s protection (and yours)…


Now, on to taking walks.  I love to take a walk with my dogs.  But I do it ONLY when the pavement is NOT hot.  I’ve seen folks walking their dogs mid-day, when the sun is making the tar on the road into tar-bubbles (remember popping them??)…. There they walk, with their dog beside them, and the dog is SO trying to get up onto the grass and the owner keeps yanking the poor pooch back onto the VERY hot pavement.  Let’s think about this – If YOU won’t walk barefoot on the road because it’s hot, WHY would you have your DOG walk there?


And on to the beach we go…. I love the beach.  I love the sand and the water.  I can not imagine taking my dog, though!  There are signs posted all over – “NO Dogs on the Beach”… Know why?  CAUSE THEY DON’T BELONG THERE!  Too hot, no shade, salt water is NOT good for them, and, well, they poop.  I don’t want MY kids digging up doggie poop at the beach.  I know that they’re not allowed during the season but I’m talking about between now and when the season officially opens.  There will be plenty of warm, sunny beach days between now and then.  Dogs don’t belong on the beach!


Oh, also – Chlorine is not good for dogs.  I have a kiddy pool that I use for my crew.  I set it up in the back yard every summer and that way they have their OWN pool.  No cleaning dog hair out of the filter, no worrying that the dog’s nails are going to rip the liner, no worries about over-drying their sensitive skin with the chlorine…… I love to watch them swim – at the lake!


So that’s that.  Those are my observations.


Is there anything YOU’D like to know about?  E-mail me!  I’d love to get some ideas on blogs!

Puppy Myths
May 10, 2008

I have been a Veterinary Nurse, an Animal Control Officer and the president of an animal rescue.  In those capacities I have herd some amazing comments about animals and I thought I’d touch on a few of them for you.  These are basic misconceptions I’ve dealt with over my almost 30 years in the critter world….


I want to get a new puppy so my old dog can train it.  Oh I love this one!  Please, have your 94 year old, arthritic grandmother take care of your extremely rambunctious two year old child on a 24/7 basis for a while.  See how well things go!  Nuff said.


My current dog is probably not going to live much longer so I want to get a new puppy now, before the old dog goes.  Well ok then.  You’d be amazed at how many times I actually do hear this.  First of all, your old dog deserves more respect than this.  This is a dog who has been with you for probably its whole life.  This old dog needs you more now than when it was a puppy.  Why would you want to stress this old dog out by bringing in a new pup?  Help your old dog live out its last days in a peaceful, loving atmosphere.  There will always be puppies to adopt.  Your old dog needs you now.


I want a puppy to grow up with my baby / kids.  Well, let’s remember that puppies have puppy teeth and they are sharp.  Kids have attention spans of about 3 seconds (trust me – I know!)… So, in essence, the puppy will grow up parallel to your children while YOU clean up after it, walk it, bathe it, give it medication, train it, take it for walks in the pouring rain (while the kids are on the sofa watching cartoons!)…  Get the picture?  Cool idea and Hallmark has really gotten a good run out of that but the reality is, kids and puppies don’t go together well.  Unless you own a Band-Aid company!


I want a puppy because an older dog is already set in its ways and is harder to train.  This one is great!  Please – I’ve seen puppies flunk puppy class and old dogs learn amazing feats.  It has absolutely nothing to do with age and everything to do with the training.  Patience is required in both cases, as is love and understanding.  You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!  A dog’s life is centered around pleasing its owner.  They will do anything for you in order to be in your good graces – take advantage of that!


If a puppy “messes” in the house, rub its nose in it and the puppy won’t do that anymore.  Oh my…..puppies have an attention span of, well, about 2 seconds.  So if you DID rub you pup’s nose into its mess the only thing you will succeed in doing is confusing the puppy!  That pup has NO idea why you’re doing what you’re doing.  What you WILL do is make the pup afraid of YOU!

So that’s a few of the absurdities I’ve heard over the years.  I thought it pertinent to focus on puppies as this is the season where they seem to be plentiful.  I have more, but my husband said “enough with the Andy Rooney thing!”….Hey – I LIKE Andy Rooney!


Of Fleas, Ticks and Other Creepy Crawlies
May 2, 2008

“Caution – Harmful if swallowed.  Causes eye irritation.  Avoid contact with skin, eyes or clothing.  Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling.”


So I’m reading these cautions as I prepare to use this product and I stop and ask myself – If I have to use rubber gloves, not get it in my eyes or on my skin, and dispose of it as if it were a hazmat product (which, by the way, it is – you can’t dispose of it in regular garbage if it’s got any left in it), why the heck am I preparing to use it on my PET?


Know what “it” is?  A popular flea and tick product designed to be placed on the skin of your pet, between their shoulder blades.  Why there?  So they can’t get at it.  AND you should not let children or other pets interact with the treated pet for up to an hour or more or else they might come in contact with this chemical stuff.

Ok, so you’ve applied this stuff while wearing rubber gloves and you’ve kept that pet away from other pets, children and yourself for at least an hour.  Now you have to make sure the pet you’ve applied the stuff to doesn’t have an adverse reaction to it!!!


JEEZE, Louise!!!  Does it seem a bit crazy to you, too?  Putting a chemical on your pet to kill fleas, ticks and other creepy crawlies that is so strong, it’s listed as a hazardous material to dispose of! 


The argument is about 50 / 50 pro and con using these products but I wondered if there was another way… And I found one!


I started asking around a while back and found a few products on the market for flea control.  Anything with brewers yeast and garlic does well but I’ve just gone to using plain old garlic at each meal for the dogs.  Gotta say, their breath is WICKED for the first 10 minutes or so after eating the stuff, but I’ve been flea free for a long time!  I usually buy garlic POWDER – which is different than garlic salt (don’t get the salt!)… Or some folks take a fresh clove of garlic (1/4 to a whole one) and mince it into each feeding. 


Treating rugs with a borax type of powder (I get a box of Borax and use that) supposedly reduces flea populations, too… When you vacuum, make sure to remove the bag every time.

For ticks, I have not found anything that my pets can eat to prevent them.  It seems that brushing the pet and applying an herbal flea repellent before they go out is the best method.  Apparently products with eucalyptus powder are good….  Checking your pets when they come back in is important as well – as they will be easier to find before they attach.


There are many homeopathic alternatives to flea and tick control.  I was given a book called Natural Health For Dogs & Cats by a previous adopter and I’ve used it to check up on remedies for my beasts.  I’m not thrilled about putting lots of chemicals on my guys so any time I can avoid this, I do.

So toss the coin and see which methods you prefer!  There are so many alternatives available, it’s crazy not to check them out…. They’re your pets – take good care of them!